Babies have been around forever, since the beginning of time. That means that there have always been ‘rules’ on how to safely raise a baby. Whether it be in days gone by were word of mouth was how safety tips and tricks got shared. Or, our modern world, where people trust books, doctors and the internet for their safety advice.
I am sure anyone who has children, was given a lot of advice by parents and grandparents (and strangers) about how to do certain things. We take this advice and wonder if it is safe. We look it up online, or in a book, and then find a world of information that tells us everything and anything, and sometimes nothing at all.
If we have a trustworthy and close family, and we don’t mind all of these opinions and tricks, we sometimes go ahead and follow the advice. No matter what tells us otherwise that it may not be considered safe anymore. Well, I have news for everyone, The world was just ignorant, and no one looked into the harm these tips and tricks could cause.
Just because we only recently know that giving honey to a baby before one can cause botulism, doesn’t mean this only started happening. The risk was always there, we just didn’t know. A lot of us (myself included) think ‘well, we survived, so it must not be that unsafe.’ The truth is, we are all the exception and not the rule. So, we have out together a list of things that have never been safe for a baby, not matter how endorsed they were in the past.
15 Baby Sleeping On Belly
Now, before I start a mimi-mom riot, I know and understand that there are instances where a baby needs to sleep on their stomach, due to reflux and other health issues. Let’s just say that I am not talking about those babies. It has never been safe for a baby to sleep on their stomach. Babies may enjoy sleeping on their stomach, and they may sleep better, but it really can be playing Russian roulette.
We all know that the number of babies who have died due to SIDS has drastically decreased since the ‘back to sleep’ campaign started. This is because babies can sometimes get their airways blocked when sleeping on their stomach, because they do not have the ability to lift their head if they can not breath. If baby is not sleeping, people will often tell you to place them on their stomach, because they did that with their babies and they are fine. Again, exception, not rule.
14 Stuffies In Bed
I was born in the 80’s, which meant that not only did I sleep on my stomach, but I also had a pillow, blanket and stuffed animals from almost the moment I was born. I am very glad to be the exception to this rule, as clearly, I survived. This, has also never been safe for babies. It was not safe then and it is not safe now.
It follows the same guidelines as why it is not safe for babies to sleep on their stomachs. These objects in the crib, can block the babies ability to breathe in air, and they are just not able to move them if they notice that they can not breathe. I get it moms, we need sleep, and sometimes we think we should let our babies do these things because it means baby and mom will get some much needed rest. There are other things you can try, such as white noise and swaddling.
13 Fever Remedies
Fevers in babies are awful, especially when they are young. It can cause quite a bit of anxiety in a lot of mom’s out there, as they look for any and all tips to get that fever down. One of the oldest pieces of advice is to give the baby some aspirin to bring the fever down. Again, this has never been safe. Aspirin should never be given to anyone under the age of 18, without the doctor’s OK. If we can not give it to our teenagers, then we definitely should not be giving it to our babies.
Your best bet with a fever is to try a luke warm bath, or some age/weight appropriate medication. Infant Tylenol is your best bet, as it is the gentlest on their little stomachs. An even better bet is to get your baby to a doctor to get them checked and ask the doctor what you can do to get the fever down.
12 No Car Seat
This one seems pretty clear, but it is never safe to take a baby in a car without a car seat. Can you imagine that there must have been a time where they did not have car seats? That woman must have just carried their babies in their laps while they drove, until they invented these seats that can carry a baby safely. Also, have you seen the earlier versions of car seats, they shock even me!
Car seat anxiety is a real thing, and rightly so. New parents, especially first time parents, are very nervous about making sure that the car seat is installed properly and that the baby is put in their safely. Some hospitals will not let you leave until they are confident you can place your baby safely in the car seat. We still worry, but maybe a little worry is necessary to make sure we are always doing this right.
11 Cereal = Sleep
Once I had my daughter, one of the first pieces of advice I got was from my grandfather. He told me that my grandmother used to cut the nipple on the my dad’s bottle, and fill it with baby cereal (or pablum, as the older folks call it), and it would help them sleep longer at night. Sure, this probably works and my dad lived to tell the tale, but this has never been safe.
Some parents do have to do this due to reflux issues, but this should only be done when directed to by a medical professional. A little baby’s stomach is just not developed enough to handle any form of solid food before at least 4 months of age. Even at 4 months, it is about learning to eat and not a replacement for breastmilk or formula. It doesn’t even really work, as they will still wake up frequently to eat, their tummies are too small.
10 Second Hand Smoke
It is hard to believe there was ever a time when people thought that there was nothing unhealthy about cigarette smoking. Even harder to believe that women did not even think twice before smoking while pregnant or around their baby. I grew up in a home where my parent’s smoke inside, and yes I am OK, but it was never safe for me.
We know all the damages that smoking while pregnant, and second-hand smoke when the baby comes can do, so I do not feel like I really need to go on and on and explain the risks. It is just a great example of how far our medical research has come, as I was born in the 80’s, so it was really not that long ago! I still have a hard time imagining the image of a doctor smoking while in an appointment with a pregnant woman!
9 Alcohol For Teething
Just as we are all shocked at any advice on giving the baby alcohol, it was once upon a time considered OK, even safe. I am sure we have all heard the age old advice that you should rub alcohol on the gums of teething babes. This may be one remedy that actually does work, but at what cost? This is another thing that has never been safe, no matter how many babies survived this.
Studies have come to show that even a teaspoon of alcohol, ingested by the baby, can have some pretty serious (and sometimes, fatal) consequences for the baby. It can cause some level of intoxication and lead to alcohol poisoning. There are many other methods on soothing a baby’s aching gums, may not be as helpful as alcohol, but it is definitely a million times safer.
8 Bee Juice
Honey is another item that we are told to never give to our babies, at least before the age of one. All doctors may be different, and have different opinions, but they all agree that honey before the age of one is a serious no-no. It has been known to cause botulism in infants, as their stomach’s can not process it. Botulism is a very serious illness, which can often be fatal.
Honey was once used among mothers everywhere if their infant was ill, with a cough or a sore throat. It was also used as a useful trick to get babies to take a pacifier. My own mother told me to put a little honey on my daughter’s pacifier to get her to use that instead of me. I had to inform her that this was not safe, and yes I survived, but that never made it safe.
7 Bumper Pads
Another thing you will often see in cribs if you look at your own baby pictures, are bumper pads. These were often used and were seen as a great safety tool. Why? Well, the prevented the baby from getting their arms and legs stuck through the openings of the crib rails. It also prevented them from banging their head on the sides of a crib. A lot of those babies who grew up with bumper pads survived, does that make them safe? If you get the trend of this article you will say no.
These bumper pads have been deemed a contributing factor to SIDS and suffocation among babies. They may press their face along the side of the bumper pad and not be able to move to get in breath. It also is a wonderful climbing aid when they are big enough to stand up on their own. The cribs have open rails for a reason, to let air easily come into the crib, we are essentially just cutting off air when we place these pads in the crib.
6 Baby Walkers
The dreaded (or loved) baby walker, it is a “helpful” tool in helping your little one learn to walk. I am not talking about the different kinds you can find now, I mean the ones that you would sit your baby in a plastic contraption with wheels on it, and away they would go. You could find a walker in almost every house back in the day, parents loved them. They loved that their baby loved them, that it could keep them occupied for a minute, and that they would learn to walk.
Well, these have never been safe. Actually, in Canada, you can not own, use, buy or sell one. They are banned. There have been numerous reports of babies not being monitored and falling down the stairs in them. Most will cry that this is due to parents not paying attention, and while they are true, these forms of walkers can actually hinder a baby’s ability to walk on their own.
5 Rubbing Alcohol For A Fever
I don’t know why the older generations tips and tricks involved so much alcohol, but here is another one. When a baby has a fever, it can be scary, but it is inevitable for almost every single baby. Parent’s become desperate and are willing to try just about everything to get that fever down. One of the things they may come across is to rub your baby down with some rubbing alcohol.
This was a popular method way back then, but it has never been safe to do so. Not only is this method not effective at all, it can actually make them worse. Did you know that the body can absorb alcohol through the skin? Well, it can so the alcohol you are rubbing on your baby could be absorbed into the skin. Also, the alcohol can make them too cold, leading them to shivers and a fever. Seems pretty counter-productive.
4 Letting The Baby Cry
OK, here it is the controversial ‘cry it out’ technique. Now, I want to make it clear that I am discussing ONLY about letting a newborn cry, that means a baby under the age of 3-4 months. I am not talking about older infants and children here, but newborns. Many of the older generations, let their newborns cry it out. My own mother included, this is not safe.
Cry it out has many pros and cons, but there are very little pros in letting a newborn cry it out. Even the specialists in sleep training will tell you that it is virtually impossible to sleep train a newborn. They need to wake often and eat, and they are just not developmentally ready to soothe themselves. Most older parents, and grandparents, thought this to be safe because like my mom, they have a child (like) me who is completely fine and suffering no ill from the early cry it out.
3 Feeding Schedule
The world seems very concerned with how a mother chooses to feed her baby. Breast vs. formula is just one of the many mommy wars going on, but I am not going to touch on that here. I am talking about when we feed our babies. The older generation has always been told that they should feed their babies every four hours, no matter what. It was a way to get their baby on a schedule, and this information has filtered it’s way down and is still being advised.
Yes, it is important to get your baby on a schedule, but this rule has never been safe for a baby. Feeding on demand is actually the safest feeding method we should all be following, especially for a newborn baby. Breast fed babies especially go through stages of cluster feeding, and they may have times when they need those constant feedings. To deprive them of those nutrients is incredibly unsafe.
2 Ice Baths
OK, our last one on how to deal with a fever. When your child has a fever, they will often feel very hot, even burning, to the touch. Our instinct when anything is hot, is to cool it down and as fast as possible. One of the pieces of advice that a lot of people did that was never safe was to put them in an ice cold bath. Yup, a cold bath filled with ice.
This not only does absolutely nothing to bring the fever down, it is extremely dangerous. When a body gets cold too fast, or too cold it raises the risk of hypothermia. It also is not very pleasant for the baby to be in. The best thing to do when your baby has a fever is to give them a luke warm bath, at room temperature of a tad below. If you are ever worried about a fever, the safest thing to do is to go for a visit at the doctor’s office.
I am sure we have all heard this a lot, don’t pick up or hold your baby too much as you will spoil them. It is like the anthem of grandparent advice. Much like the advice on ‘cry it out’, it is impossible to spoil a baby who is a newborn by holding them too much. They do not have the ability to soothe themselves at that young an age and need the constant affection from mom and dad.
As babies get older and enter infant and toddler age, there is a point where tending to every whimper and cry can create some negative behaviours, and my create a separation anxiety or even hinder independent play. We are talking about newborns here. It is never safe to let a newborn cry for a long period of time, or to neglect to pick them up. Trust me, they will not be tiny forever, and they definitely will not want cuddles forever.
Sources: parents.com, romper.com